1, 2, 3… Yank!!!

My PEG (feeding) tube has been looking kind of nasty and rotten lately because I had been putting off having it changed for a while. So, before it stopped working completely, I called my gastroenterologist’s office to make arrangements for the tube change.

This was my third tube change since I had it inserted in 2003. The tube we were replacing had lasted the longest of any so far, three years by my records. I was kind of proud of how long we had made it last. However, I was about to find out that making it last too long caused other problems.

I use a Bard replacement .PEG tube with the rubber bumper on the inside instead of an inflatable type because they last longer and seemed to leak less. The on the problem with the bumper type is that very few technicians know how to insert them.

First of all, the old tube must be basically yanked out like the first time you replace a tube that was inserted with a scope down your throat. The idea is that when you pull on the tube the bumper flexes and comes out through the hole. However, my tube had been in there for nearly 3 years and the bumper had become hard. So, he yanked and it would not come out, so he yanked again and the bumper broke off! The tube was out, that was good. But, the bumper was still inside my stomach that could be bad.

Anyway, my favorite technician went ahead and installed the new replacement tube without a problem. Meanwhile, they called the gastro doctor to see what should be done about the old bumper inside. The doctor called back about 20 or 30 minutes later and said it will pass without a problem.

Next, it was off to radiology to take a picture to see if the new tube was placed correctly. The radiology department is across the street in the main hospital. So, they have to roll the bed with me and my ventilator through the underground tunnel to radiology. I think it must be a quarter mile or more.

After about six different views on the digital fluoroscope, everything looked fine. I hope that was not six x-ray doses… digital imaging takes less radiation, I believe. Well anyway, I did not glow-in-the-dark that night.

After this experience, I think I will keep track of the age of the tube and not let it get beyond two years max. I will continue to try to find a technician that can insert the bumper type stomach tube because the balloon type doesn’t seem to last even six months.

Now I don’t want you to take this as discouragement if you are considering having a feeding tube inserted. Having to have tube feedings has kept me healthy and made me feel 100% better than when I was struggling to get barely enough nutrition by mouth. It’s just one of those things that I have to live with and life is good!

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